The King of Love My Shepherd Is

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin | Hymn Stories

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

In 1851, the Rev Henry Williams Baker became the vicar of Monkland, near Leominster. If you’ve ever driven through that village, you’ll have realised that it is not a sprawling metropolis. It contains seventy-two houses,, a church, a cheese-making diary and a pub. And a bend in the road.

Back in the day, Anglican clergy were thick on the ground and so it was that Baker was given this small parish to look after. Not entirely overrun with work, many Anglican clergy filled their time with other pursuits such as archaeology and local history. For Baker, though, his passion was for hymns.

“The King of Love” is a paraphrase of Psalm 23 which has only in recent years become overshadowed by “The Lord’s My Shepherd”. Baker had an ace up his sleeve to ensure it would be published: he was chairman of the committee which put together the very first edition of “Hymns Ancient and Modern”!

Since the hymn is a paraphrase of a Psalm, it has proved to be a great way of getting scriptural ideas to stick in the mind. In its verses we find the great image of God guiding his people, and protecting them as they walk through difficult lands. We don’t escape suffering as Christians, but we do have one to guide us through them.

Sixteen years after his arrival at Monkland, Baker died, and as he passed he faintly said:

Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His Shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.

The King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am His
And He is mine for ever.

Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul He leadeth,
And, where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I stray'd,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.

In death's dark vale I fear no ill
With Thee, dear Lord, beside me;
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy Cross before to guide me.

Thou spread'st a table in my sight,
Thy unction grace bestoweth,
And O the transport of delight
with which my cup o'erfloweth!

And so, through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never:
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise
Within Thy house for ever!


Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. (1 John 2:4) - We might stumble, we might be imperfect but we are still seeking to live in the light.

Love One Another

Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:10) - In the end our attitude to other people is a means of taking our spiritual temperature.

  1. Blog
  2. The Rectory Bulletin
  3. 2020
  4. August
  5. The King of Love My Shepherd Is